My Trip to San Francisco

I made an unexpected trip to San Francisco a little over a week ago. It was not a sightseeing trip, and I did not have a lot of time to walk around the city and take pictures. In addition, my brother brought three of his four young children on the trip, which surprised me because we were not going anywhere that would be fun for kids.

I was squashed in between my two nieces and their car seats in the back of a minivan, so I decided to wait to take pictures until we arrived in San Francisco. Not wanting to be distracted by my nieces and nephew, I took a few “stealth snapshots” at moments when they were occupied with other activities.

Mystic Hotel, San Francisco

Mystic Hotel, San Francisco

"Skyline" view of buildings with interesting patterns, San Francisco

“Skyline” view of buildings with interesting patterns, San Francisco

I visited the San Francisco Zoo a long time ago on a school field trip, but I do not think I went this far into the city before. The streets were busy and crowded. There were so many people walking around! Most of them were probably tourists. I was surprised that some streets had one red lane reserved only for buses and taxi cabs. Drivers had to maneuver around not only the buses, taxis, and pedestrians but also parked cars and construction barriers. I am glad I was not the one who drove on this trip. I do not want to go into detail about trying to find parking and how expensive it was . . .

Vintage streetlight and pedestrians on Stockton Street in San Francisco

Vintage streetlight and pedestrians on Stockton Street in San Francisco

My sister-in-law told me that my nieces and nephew were excited about going to San Francisco. They woke up right away even though it was 4:00 am in the morning. However, after a long two-hour drive and then a long wait in waiting areas and then in the minivan again for another two hours or so, their excitement quickly dissipated. I could see looks of boredom on their faces. They perked up a bit after we finally left San Francisco because we were going to go across the Golden Gate Bridge on the way home. My oldest niece was especially eager to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but by the time we got there she and my other niece were fast asleep! Nearly everyone in the minivan called out to my oldest niece to wake up. I even shook her slightly and called her name, but she still would not wake up! We kept calling and calling her but to no avail. Needless to say, she missed seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, waking up just a few moments after we went across it.

a hazy view of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

My view of the Golden Gate Bridge through haze and a fingerprint-smudged minivan window

The rest of the trip was a slow crawl home. At one point in our journey back to Sacramento, it took about an hour to travel 10 miles! My oldest niece slept during most of the trip home. Sometimes in her slumber she would lean forward despite the restraints of her car seat, and my shoulder ended up being her pillow. My other niece and nephew were getting restless, especially after the batteries on their tablets ran low and they could not play any games. At one point, my other niece entertained herself by wearing her hoodie backwards so that the hood covered her face instead of the back of her head. She then started banging on her head as if it were a drum and started singing. Another variation of her “hood dance” was wearing her hoodie backwards with her arms only partially inside the sleeves so that she could wave the sleeves from side to side. My other niece is funny, and her “hood dance” made me laugh. However, she can also be annoying too, so I was glad when this nightmarish commute was over.

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, photography

Rock Art: Part 2

Besides petroglyphs and pictographs, earth figures called geoglyphs are also considered rock art. While petroglyphs and pictographs are created on rock surfaces, geoglyphs are large designs formed on the ground. There are two common methods of creating geoglyphs. According to former archaeologist K. Kris Hurst, one method involves “moving or arranging stones or earth or other objects within a landscape.” In addition, she states that they “can be carved into a hillside exposing bedrock.”

Source: “Geoglyphs: Ancient World Wide Landscape Art” by K. Kris Hirst – About.com Archaeology

Examples of Geoglyphs

Bighorn Medicine Wheel

The Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming reflects how Native Americans were attuned to the rhythms and patterns of the natural world. Wikipedia notes that medicine wheels were used for “religious, ritual, healing, and teaching purposes” and that the stones of many medicine wheels were arranged in a common pattern:

Most medicine wheels follow the basic pattern of having a center of stone(s), and surrounding that is an outer ring of stones with “spokes”, or lines of rocks radiating from the center with the spokes facing East, South, West and North following the cardinal directions.

Source: “Medicine wheel” – Wikipedia

In addition, the Sacred Destinations website notes that the Bighorn Medicine Wheel was “constructed around 700 years ago” and is “aligned with the stars.”

Source: “Bighorn Medicine Wheel, Wyoming” – Sacred Destinations

Bighorn medicine wheel.jpg

By National Park ServiceLifefeed at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wymoming

The Bighorn Medicine Wheel is a medicine wheel located in the Big Horn Mountains of the U.S. state of Wyoming.
9 November 2004 (original upload date)

Nazca Lines

On an arid coastal plain in Peru, the Nazca people embarked on an ambitious project between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500: the creation of hundreds of long lines, geometric figures, and various other designs. They pushed aside the red pebbles on the plain, and the paler ground beneath became their canvas.

National Geographic provides a brief description of the wide range and large size of the Nazca people’s remarkable achievement:

The lines are found in a region of Peru just over 200 miles southeast of Lima, near the modern town of Nasca. In total, there are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs, also called biomorphs. Some of the straight lines run up to 30 miles, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1200 feet in length (as large as the Empire State Building).

Source: “Nasca Lines – The Sacred Landscape” – National Geographic

Recently, a pilot discovered some new figures. According to The Huffington Post, these figures “include a snakelike figure roughly 200 feet long, a huge zigzag line, and a giant bird.” They “were apparently exposed by recent sandstorms in the area.”

Source: “New Nazca Lines Discovered In Peruvian Desert” – The Huffington Post

Why were the Nazca Lines made? Several theories have emerged over the years. According to National Geographic, archaeologists Paul Kosok and Maria Reiche argued that the Nazca Lines served an “astronomical and calendrical purpose.” However, additional research over the years reveals they were probably used for ritual purposes:

“It seems likely that most of the lines did not point at anything on the geographical or celestial horizon, but rather led to places where rituals were performed to obtain water and fertility of crops,” wrote Reinhard in his book The Nasca Lines: A New Perspective on their Origin and Meanings.

Anthony Aveni, a former National Geographic grantee, agrees, “Our discoveries clearly showed that the straight lines and trapezoids are related to water…but not used to find water, but rather used in connection with rituals.”

Source: “Nasca Lines – The Sacred Landscape” – National Geographic

Despite all of this archaeological study of the Nazca Lines, no one really knows for sure what was the exact purpose of these mysterious and fascinating lines and designs.

Lignes de Nazca oiseau.jpg

By Marcito (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nazca lines "The Heron" figure

Nazca Lines (bird)
27 August 2008

Nazca Lines Hummingbird.jpg

By Unukorno (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nazca Lines, hummingbird figure

Nazca Lines, hummingbird
12 September 2013

Nazca-lineas-perro-c01.jpg

By Colegota https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nazca-lineas-perro-c01.jpg

Nazca Lines, dog figure

The Nazca Lines are geoglyphs (drawings on the ground) located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana (a large flat area of southern Peru). In this picture, the figure is known as the dog.
Digital photo taken by author and post-processed with The GIMP.

Nazca Lines monkey.jpg

By Unukorno (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nazca Lines, monkey figure

Nazca Lines, monkey
12 September 2013

Nazca-lineas-arana-c01.jpg

By Colegota https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nazca-lineas-arana-c01.jpg

Nazca Lines, spider figure

The Nazca Lines are geoglyphs (drawings on the ground) located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles between the towns of Nasca and Palpa on the Pampas de Nasca(a large flat area of southern Peru). In this picture, the figure known as spider.
Digital photo taken by author and post-processed with The GIMP.
google map coordinate : -14.694105,-75.122334

Nazca-lineas-astronauta-c01.jpg

By Colegota http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nazca-lineas-astronauta-c01.jpg

Nazca Lines, astronaut figure

The Nazca Lines are geoglyphs (drawings on the ground) located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana (a large flat area of southern Peru). In this picture, the figure know as the astronaut.
Digital photo taken by author and post-processed with The GIMP.

Nazca-lineas-geo-c04.jpg

By Colegota http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nazca-lineas-geo-c04.jpg

Nazca Lines, geometric lines and figures

The Nazca Lines are geoglyphs (drawings on the ground) located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana (a large flat area of southern Peru). In this picture, geometrical lines and figures.
Digital photo taken by author and post-processed with The GIMP.

Hill Figures

Another group of interesting geoglyphs are hill figures. While there are some hill figures in other parts of the world, a large number of them are located in England. Many English hill figures depict horses, but there are other types of figures, such as giants, crosses, and badges. A few are prehistoric, while others were made within the past few hundred years.

The hill figures in England share common characteristics. As their name implies, many of them were cut into hillsides. In addition, many of them are white because the cutting process revealed the underlying chalk in the ground. For areas that did not have chalk underneath the topsoil, the hill figure creators used another process. Wikipedia notes that trenches were dug and then filled with “material brighter than the natural bedrock,” which was usually chalk taken from another location.

The hill figure creators were not as prolific as those who made the Nazca Lines. According to Brian Haughton in “The White Horse of Uffington,” “there are 56 hill figures scattered around England, with the vast majority on the chalk downlands of the southern part of the country.”

Sources:

“Hill figure” – Wikipedia

“The White Horse of Uffington” by Brian Haughton – Ancient History Encyclopedia

Hill figures served a variety of purposes. For instance, in “Chalk Figures,” Ellen Castelow traces the roots of the Cerne Abbas Giant back to the Celts. She argues that the Cerne Abbas Giant “was identified as Hercules and associated with a fertility cult.” There is even a fertility ritual associated with the Cerne Abbas Giant:

Until 1635 a maypole was set up near the giant and today ‘courting couples’ still make night-time pilgrimages up to the giant to make sure that their marriage will be blessed with children! Women it seems are supposed to roll over the giant’s ‘male appendage’ to make sure that their fertility will be enhanced!!

Source: “Chalk Hill Figures” by Ellen Castelow – Historic UK

The Cerne Abbas Giant – 011.jpg

By Pete Harlow https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Cerne_Abbas_Giant_-_011.jpg

an aerial photograph of the Cerne Abbas Giant in England

An aerial photograph of the Cerne Abbas Giant taken from a Cessna 150 aircraft using an Olympus C1400L digital camera.
7 October 2001
Dimensions (from Wikipedia): about 180 ft (55 m) high and 167 ft (51 m) wide

Researchers have also speculated that the Uffington White Horse is a Celtic religious symbol. Catelow notes that the Uffington White Horse “probably represents a Celtic God” and that a “similar ‘horse’ is featured on old Celtic coins from 150BC.” Haughton presents some information that supports Catelow’s ideas:

Others, however, see the White Horse as connected with the worship of Belinos or Belinus, ‘the shining one’, a Celtic sun god often associated with horses. Bronze and Iron Age sun chariots, mythological representations of the sun in a chariot, were shown as being pulled by horses, as can be seen from the 14th century BC example from Trundholm in Denmark. If, as is now believed, the Celts were settled in Britain at the latest by the end of the Bronze Age, then the White Horse could still be interpreted as a Celtic horse-goddess symbol.

Source: “The White Horse of Uffington” by Brian Haughton – Ancient History Encyclopedia

Uffington-White-Horse-sat.jpg

By USGS (World Wind (go)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

satellite view of the Uffington White Horse in England

Sa[t]elite view of the Uffington White Horse
Dimensions (from “Chalk Figures”): 374 feet long and 130 feet high

The head of the White Horse of Uffington.jpg

Ethan Doyle White [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

the head of the White Horse of Uffington, a chalk geoglyph in Oxfordshire, England

The head of the White Horse of Uffington, a chalk geoglyph in Oxfordshire, England.
10 December 2012 (according to EXIF data)

The Whipsnade White Lion is an example of a hill figure used for advertising. Created in the 1930s, it marks the location of the Whipsnade Zoo so that the zoo can be easily spotted from the road or in the air.

Whipsnade White Lion – geograph.org.uk – 112460.jpg

George Mahoney [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Whipsnade White Lion hill figure in England

Whipsnade White Lion. The White Lion cut into the hillside at Whipsnade Zoo.
26 March 2002
From geograph.org.uk

Here are some more examples of hill figures:

Windover Hill with Long Man.JPG

By Poliphilo (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Windover Hill with Long Man of Wilmington

Windover Hill with Long Man [of Wilmington]
28 March 2014
Dimensions (from Wikipedia): 69.2 metres (227 ft) tall
History (from Wikipedia): Formerly thought to originate in the Iron Age or even the neolithic period, more recent archaeological work has shown that the figure may have been cut in the Early Modern era – the 16th or 17th century AD. The origin of the Long Man remains unclear.

Bulford, England. Chalk Kiwi from Postcard, c.1918.jpg

See page for author [Public domain or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Postcard depicting the Bulford Kiwi hill figure

Postcard depicting the Bulford Kiwi
circa 1919
Dimensions (from Wikipedia): The Kiwi’s body is 1.5 acres (6,100 m2). From the Kiwi’s feet to the top of its back is 420 feet (130 m). The Kiwi’s beak is 150 feet (46 m) long. The letters “N.Z.” are 65 feet (20 m) long.
History (from Wikipedia): After the war was over, the troops were eager to return home, but no troop ships were available. In the wake of riots by disaffected New Zealanders, officers decided that the troops should be kept busy carving an enormous Kiwi into the chalk of the hill. This was done in February and March 1919, by the Canterbury and Otago Engineers Battalions.

While the Nazca Lines remained intact for thousands of years because of their desert location, hill figures are more vulnerable to changes in the environment. They need constant maintenance. Otherwise, grass and vegetation will grow over them, and they will disappear.

Over the years, efforts have been made to maintain and restore some of them, such as the Osmington White Horse below. Wikipedia notes that the upkeep of some of the hill figures is done by local people who “often work regularly to restore or maintain a local landmark.” Hopefully, these geoglyphs will be around in the years to come so that they can be appreciated by future generations.

Source: “Hill figure” – Wikipedia

Osmington white horse.jpg

By Rupert Phillip Acott (Life time: 1941) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Osmington white horse photo taken in 1883

Osmington white horse photo taken in 1883
Original publication: family photograph album
Immediate source: Inherited from family
Dimensions (from Wikipedia): 280 feet (85 m) long and 323 feet (98 m) high
History (from Wikipedia): The figure is of King George III, who regularly visited Weymouth.

Osmington White Horse – geograph.org.uk – 1257182.jpg

Steve Daniels [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Osmington White Horse hill figure in England

Osmington White Horse
7 June 2007
From geograph.org.uk

Leave a comment

Filed under art, Blogging, culture, history, photography

Rock Art: Part 1

Rock balancing is not the only art form involving rocks. Rock art involves carving, drawing, and painting on rocks. Many ancient cultures across the world engaged in some form of rock art. However, not all rock art is prehistoric.

According to Wikipedia, rock art is “often divided into three forms: petroglyphs, which are carved into the rock surface, pictographs, which are painted onto the surface, and earth figures engraved into the ground.” This week’s post features petroglyphs and pictographs.

Source: “Rock Art” – Wikipedia

Petroglyphs

Blombos Cave engrave ochre.jpg

By Chris. S. Henshilwood (Photo taken by author.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Blombos Cave engraved ochre

Blombos Cave engraved ochre.
2002

The engraved ochre pieces discovered by archaeologist Chris Henshilwood in Blombos Cave in South Africa are considered to be the oldest rock art ever created. According to Wikipedia, two of these pieces were discovered in 2002, and an additional six pieces were found in 2009. These additional pieces, which were recovered from the cave’s “entire Middle Stone Age sequence,” “dated to between 70,000 and 100,000 years old.”

Besides the ochre pieces, Henshilwood and his team discovered two toolkits in the Blombos Cave in 2008.  The Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive notes that these toolkits form “what they believe is a 100,000-year-old paint workshop in Blombos Cave.”

Sources:

“Blombos Cave” – Wikipedia

“Where Is the Oldest Rock Art?” – Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive

Sleeping Antelope Tin Taghirt.jpg

By Linus Wolf (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Petroglyph depicting a possibly sleeping antelope, located at Tin Taghirt on the Tassili n’Ajjer in southern Algeria.

Petroglyph depicting a possibly sleeping antelope, located at Tin Taghirt on the Tassili n’Ajjer in southern Algeria. 2 January 2011

According to the UNESCO website, “Tassili n’Ajjer is a vast plateau in south-east Algeria at the borders of Libya, Niger and Mali, covering an area of 72,000 sq. km. ” The UNESCO website further describes Tassili n’Ajjer as follows:

Located in a strange lunar landscape of great geological interest, this site has one of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world. More than 15,000 drawings and engravings record the climatic changes, the animal migrations and the evolution of human life on the edge of the Sahara from 6000 BC to the first centuries of the present era. The geological formations are of outstanding scenic interest, with eroded sandstones forming ‘forests of rock’.

Source: “Tassili n’Ajjer” – UNESCO website

Giants, Petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch.jpg

By Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States (GiantsUploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch

Petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1303 http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g31411-d102662-Revi…;
9 August 2010, 12:04
Source: Giants

Reporter Roger Naylor describes Rock Art Ranch in Arizona as follows:

Encompassing 5,000 acres between Winslow and Holbrook, Rock Art Ranch is a cattle ranch and home to one of the best preserved and most extensive collections of ancient petroglyphs in the world. Images etched into rocks adorn cliff faces, alcoves and overhangs in scenic Chevelon Canyon.

In addition, he notes that the “Rock Art Ranch petroglyphs date from 6000 B.C. to 1400.”

Source: “Rock Art Ranch lets visitors climb into the past” by Roger Naylor – Azcentral website

Petroglifo de Anganuma.JPG

Dava003 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Petroglyph in Ecuador known locally as "Mermaid"

Petroglifo conocido localmente como “la sirena”.
Petroglyph [in Ecuador] known locally as “Mermaid.” 15 July 2013, 11:13:55

The original Wikipedia entry for this petroglyph is in Spanish. Here is an English translation of part of this entry:
A 2 km Quilanga (Ecuador) in Quilanga-Gonzanama pathway is the Anganuma neighborhood. Ascending path for weighting (approximately two miles in the sector Pailapamba) are delineated different areas where there are rocks of various shapes and sizes. A particular rock is known locally as the rock of the siren. The rocks are the result of the eruption of Mount Colambo.

Laxe das Rodas – Grupo XXIX do Outeiro do Lombo da Costa – San Xurxo de Sacos – Cotobade.jpg

By Lansbricae [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Laxe das Rodas petroglyph in Spain

Galego: Laxe das Rodas – Grupo XXIX do Outeiro do Lombo da Costa – San Xurxo de Sacos – Cotobade – Pontevedra – Galicia [Spain]
6 July 2010, 20:21:10
originally posted to Flickr as Laxe das Rodas – Grupo XXIX do Outeiro do Lombo da Costa – San Xurxo de Sacos – Cotobade

Most of the articles about this petroglyph are in Spanish. Here is a translated description of Laxe das Rodas from Concello de Murros, a municipality website for the City of Walls in Spain:

Among them we recommend visiting for its originality and ease of access, Laxe das Rodas, in the parish of Louro, which was discovered in 1956 by the ethnographer D. Agustín González López, according to the expert’s D. Fernando Alonso Romero is related to the widespread worship of the sun, may represent a calendar. This is reached by the road that leads to Louro Taxes, crossing the place known as “A Pallagueira” or taking a detour at km. 5 of the C550 road, at the point called Portocarral, to the point of San Roque, from here a deviation to the left along the new road Taxes and continues past half kilometer walk would take about 100 m. to reach the place where Laxe das Rodas station, consisting of a group of ten figures representing two spirals symbols seven circuliformes and a solar horse is located.

Source: Monumentos – Petroglifos” – Concello de Murros website

Tamgaly-Tas Petroglyphs.JPG

By Stomac (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Petroglyphs in Tamgaly-Tas, Almaty Province, Kazakhstan

Petroglyphs in Tamgaly-Tas, Almaty Province, Kazakhstan
2 July 2011, 13:07:48

Here is a description of Tamgaly from Wikipedia:

Tamgaly is a petroglyph site in the Semirechye, Kazakhstan. Tamgaly is located 120 km to northwest of Almaty, and takes about two and a half hours as the side road to Tamgaly is in poor condition (August 2013). The site is open to visitors, and the guards can assist you to head in the right direction along a gravel path. The main petroglyphs can be reached in about 15 minutes from the car park. The majority of the 5000 petroglyphs are in the main canyon, but there are a number in the many side canyons. The petroglyphs are mostly Bronze Age, but in some cases from the Iron Age and the Medieval.

The name Tamgaly in Kazakh and other Turkic languages means “painted or marked place”.

Tamgaly became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

Source: “Tamgaly” – Wikipedia

Nez Perce Indian Wars, graves of soldiers and civilian scouts killed. – NARA – 533070.jpg

Author Unknown or not provided

petroglyph made in memory of soldiers and civilian scouts killed in Nez Perce Indian Wars

Nez Perce Indian Wars, graves of soldiers and civilian scouts killed. Record Creator: War Department. (1789 – 09/18/1947) Date: ca. 1881 – ca. 1885

This petroglyph from the late 1800s is different from the previous petroglyphs because its purpose is clear. It is a memorial marker reflecting a loss of life in this particular war. The Nez Perce War lasted only four months, but the National Parks Conservation Association notes that “losses were heavy on both sides until the Nez Perce surrendered on October 5, 1877.”

Source: “Nez Perce National Historical Park” – National Parks Conservation Association PDF

Pictographs

Apollo-11 stone slab.jpg

By José-Manuel Benito Álvarez —>Locutus BorgReference:*Bednarik, Robert G. (2003), The earliest evidence of Paleoart artículo en PDF in Rock Art Research, Volume 20, Number 2. Page 95 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Zoomorphic pictogram on stone slab from the MSA of Apollo 11 Cave, Namibia

Zoomorphic pictogram on stone slab from the MSA of Apollo 11 Cave, Namibia
14 May 2006

According to the Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive, the Apollo 11 Stones “were thought to be the oldest known artwork of any kind from the African continent” until the discovery of engraved ochre pieces at Blombos Cave in 2002.

The Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive also describes the Apollo 11 Stones as “a painted tablet . . . discovered in two pieces in the Huns Mountains of southwestern Namibia in an archaeological layer dated to between 26,300 and 28,400 B.P.” The reason why these stones are called Apollo 11 Stones is because they were discovered during the flight of Apollo 11.

Source: “Where Is the Oldest Rock Art?” – Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive

Bulls In Africa.jpg

By MrABlair23 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rock painting of cattle in Africa

Rock painting of cattle in Africa
23 June 2010

According to The Economist, “Africa may have 200,000 rock-art sites, more than any other continent. The oldest known site, in Namibia, is between 18,000 and 28,000 years old.”

Source: “African Rock Art: The Continent’s True History” – The Economist

SantaCruz-CuevaManos-P2210651b.jpg

By Mariano (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Picture taken by me in 2005.
12 August 2005

Here is a description of Cueva de las Manos from Wikipedia:

Cueva de las Manos (Spanish for Cave of Hands) is a cave or a series of caves located in the province of Santa Cruz, Argentina, 163 km (101 mi) south of the town of Perito Moreno. It is famous (and gets its name) for the paintings of hands. The art in the cave dates from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago.

Source: “Cueva de las Manos” – Wikipedia

FogginiHands.jpg

By Roland Unger (Own work Firstly published at Wikivoyage) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Painting of hands, Foggini-Mesticawi Cave, Gilf Kebir, Western Desert, Egypt

Painting of hands, Foggini-Mesticawi Cave, Gilf Kebir, Western Desert, Egypt 11 March 2011

Oddly enough, handprint pictograms similar to those in Cueva de las Manos can be found in the Foggini-Mestekawi Cave, which was discovered in 2003. Wikipedia describes this Egyptian cave as “a major new rock art site in the Western Gilf Kebir.” The Gilf Kebir region in Egypt “is known for its prehistoric Neolithic petroglyphs.”

Source: “Gilf Kebir” – Wikipedia

Aboriginal rock art on the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station.jpg

By Graeme Churchard from Bristol (51.4414, -2.5242), UK [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Aboriginal rock art on the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station

Aboriginal rock art on the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station
8 September 2013, 12:15
Source: On the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station

According to Wikipedia, “Australian Indigenous art is the oldest unbroken tradition of art in the world.” It further notes that “aboriginal rock art has been around for a long period of time, with the oldest examples, in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, and the Olary district of South Australia, estimated to be up to around 40,000 years old.”

Source: “Indigenous Australian art” – Wikipedia

Rock painting hua mountain 1.jpg

By Rolfmueller  via Wikimedia Commons

Photograph of a portion of the main rock painting of the Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain. The paintings are located on a cliff face along the west bank of the Mingjiang River in Yaoda Town, Ningming County, Guangxi, China.

Photograph of a portion of the main rock painting of the Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain. The paintings are located on a cliff face along the west bank of the Mingjiang River in Yaoda Town, Ningming County, Guangxi, China.

China also has a long history of rock painting as well. This is one section of the Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain in southern China. According to Wikipedia, the “paintings are believed to be between 1800 and 2500 or between 1600 and 2400 years old.” It further notes that the “main painted area along the cliff has a width of about 170 metres (560 ft) and a height of about 40 metres (130 ft) and is believed to be the largest rock painting in China.”

I was surprised by the materials they used for the paint. Apparently, the paintings “were executed using a mixture of red ochre (hematite), animal glue, and blood.”

Source: “Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain” – Wikipedia

Ipoh-San-Bao-Dong-cave-Buddhist-temple-paintings-Jul-2000-06.JPG

By Acred99 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Buddha pictograph on a rock wall in Tibet

Along with the Hindu Batu Cave in Kuala Lumpur, San Bao Dong cave and Buddhist temple located in Ipoh is one of the most famous temples in Malaysia especially amongst the Chinese community who refer to the place as ‘Ba Loh’, which is a Cantonese expression. San Bao Dong has been made famous by its cave paintings. In some instances these paintings are at least 2 stores high ‘the monk standing next to the tiger painting’ is very big. The paintings depicted in my photos don’t do the originals justice. They really are great works of art. When the original paintings where first painted is hard to say because of dust the paintings are maintained. It would be fascinating to have the paintings scanned to reveal there origins. I was told they where done by monks if that was the case they must have been great artisans in their day. The cave its self was probably established around 1887 as the neighboring Nan Tian Tong temple was established during this time. Matthew
July 2000

Leave a comment

Filed under art, Blogging, culture, photography

Balanced Rocks

I came across this balanced rock as I researched material for my “Ancient America” posts.

Balanced Rock, North Salem, NY.jpg

Daniel Case at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

photo of Balanced Rock, North Salem, NY

Balanced Rock, North Salem, NY
10 July 2006

I wondered how this balancing feat was accomplished. Once again, I did some research and found out that there are two types of balanced rocks: man-made and naturally occurring.

Man-made Balanced Rocks

Some balanced rocks are made by people who engage in an art form called rock balancing. As the name implies, the rocks are held together by balance alone without the assistance of adhesives or other aids.

Source: “Rock balancing” – Wikipedia

Rock balancing (Counter Balance).jpg

By Leandro Inocencio (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

photo of balanced rocks using counterbalance

Counter Balance
16 October 2012, 10:49:07

 

Stone Balancing Sunset.jpg

By Saffron Blaze (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

photo of balanced stones at sunset

The photograph and the stone balancing acts are both my own. From beach stones at Fethiye, Turkey.
26 October 2011

 

Inukshuks on the Ottawa River.jpg

By see source (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

photo of balanced rocks by Ottowa sculptor John Ceprano

Inukshuks on the Ottawa River in July 2005. Ottawa sculpt[o]r, John Ceprano, stacks up rocks every summer into interesting and pleasing shapes.
23 July 2005

Rockbalance England.jpg

Rockbalancer at en.wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], from Wikimedia Commons

photo of balanced rock by Lila Higgins

Balanced by Lila Higgins June 2007 http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockbalancer/ 4 July 2007 (original upload date)

To get an idea of how this is done, here is a video of rock sculpture and balance artist Bill Dan at work in Sausalito, California:

Naturally Occurring Balanced Rocks

Mother Nature is also a rock balance artist. According to Wikipedia, a balanced rock, which is also known as a balancing rock or a precarious border, “is a naturally occurring geological formation featuring a large rock or boulder, sometimes of substantial size, resting on other rocks, bedrock or on glacial till.”

Glaciers are responsible for the creation of some balanced rocks. Glaciers can move boulders from one area to another or on to other rocks, resulting in what are called glacial erratics. Glacial action (as well as landslides and avalanches) can also create perched blocks, which are large rock fragments partially hanging over the side of a slope or hill.

Glacial erratic, Norber – geograph.org.uk – 1503348.jpg

Gordon Hatton [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

photo of a glacial erratic at Norber in Great Britain

Glacial erratic, Norber One of several hundred erratics which are spread across a low ridge at Norber, having been dumped there by a glacier which transported them from nearby Crummack Dale. This one sits nicely on a limestone plinth, and there is a theory that the erratics have protected the limestone underneath them from erosion. However there is some debate as to the natural erosion rate of the limestone compared to that which is protected.
12 August 2009
From geograph.org.uk

 

A079, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA, balanced rock, 2002.jpg

By Brian W. Schaller (Own work) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

balanced rock in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Acadia National Park, Maine, USA, balanced rock
2002

 

A083, Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA, balanced rock, 2004.jpg

By Brian W. Schaller (Own work) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

balanced rock in Big Bend National Park, USA

Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA, balanced rock
2004

 

Pedra Montada.jpg

By Leandro da Fonseca (feita por mim) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pedra Montada in Brazil

Pedra Montada, em Guararema [Brazil].
19 September 2007

Not all naturally occurring balanced rocks are held together by balance alone. Wikipedia further notes that “some formations known by this name only appear to be balancing but are in fact firmly connected to a base rock by a pedestal or stem.” Rocks resembling balanced rocks are created by wind, water, and/or chemical erosion. Mushroom or pedestal rocks, which I discussed in my “Wind Carvings” post, are examples of these “faux” balanced rocks. Other examples of “faux” balanced rocks are hoodoos, which are “pedestal rocks sitting on taller spire formations.”

Source: “Balancing Rock” – Wikipedia

Brimham Rocks 8.jpg

Penny Mayes [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Idol Rock - Brimham Rocks

Idol Rock – Brimham Rocks [Great Britain]
10 May 2004
From geograph.org.uk

Sphimx at Bisti badlands.jpg

By John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA (Sphinx?Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 'The Sphinx' mushroom rock

‘The Sphinx’ mushroom rock.
In the Bisti Badlands — De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area.
Northwestern New Mexico.
26 February 2010, 16:30
Source: Sphinx?

 

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah WSA, NM.jpg

By John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA (Ah-Shi-Sle-PahUploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hoodoos at Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area

Hoodoos at Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area.
Rock formations in northwestern New Mexico.
“Lots of hoodoos there.”
28 June 2010, 14:52
Source: Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah

 

Bagildere Love Valley Cappadocia 1510862 3 4 Compressor HDR lvl rot1 Nevit.jpg

© Nevit Dilmen [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

hoodoos at "Love Valley" near Goreme, Cappadocia in Turkey

“Love Valley” near Göreme, Cappadocia (Turkey)
6 February 2014, 12:58:25

Before I go, here is a video showing more balanced rocks from around the world.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, culture, nature, photography

America’s Ancient Past: Part 2

While America is not famous for its ancient past, it does have some interesting prehistoric stone structures as we saw in Part 1. This week we will travel a little further east and north to New England, which is the home of two puzzling megalithic sites: America’s Stonehenge and Gungywamp.

America’s Stonehenge

America’s Stonehenge is an archaeological site located in Salem, New Hampshire. In 1937, an insurance executive named William Goodwin purchased this site and called it Mystery Hill. In 1956, Robert Stone became the new owner of this property. He turned it into a tourist attraction and renamed it America’s Stonehenge in 1982.

Travel writer Brad Olsen provides a detailed description of this site in “The Mysterious Stone Chambers of New England”:

On a hilltop in New Hampshire near the Massachusetts border are a series of low stone walls and cobbled rock chambers called America’s Stonehenge. The entire complex covers about 30 acres of hills and woodland, around which extends an apparently haphazard collection of walls interspersed with tall, triangular–shaped standing stones. The site’s central feature is “Mystery Hill,” situated on a single acre, which contains 22 stone chambers which can be characterized as dolmens, plus other megalithic features. Immediately surrounding the central site are upright stone monoliths aligned to predict prominent astronomical sightings.

Source: “The Mysterious Stone Chambers of New England” by Brad Olsen – Perceptive Travel

America’s Stonehenge.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:America_Stonehenge.jpg

Photo of part of America's Stonehenge (New Hampshire, United States), taken September 1993 by User:Stan Shebs

Photo of part of America’s Stonehenge (New Hampshire, United States), taken September 1993 by User:Stan Shebs

America’s Stonehenge.jpg

(WT-shared) Jtesla16 at wts wikivoyage [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

America's Stonehenge. , Salem (New Hampshire)

America’s Stonehenge. , Salem (New Hampshire)
17 June 2010

MysteryHill1.jpg

By Galibraryguy (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ruins at America's Stonehenge, New Hampshire

Ruins at America’s Stonehenge, New Hampshire.
15 July 2005

 

Gungywamp

Like America’s Stonehenge, Gungywamp is a private archaeological site. People who would like to see Gungywamp should contact the property owners before visiting it. Arrangements for a visit can also be made by contacting the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, which “give tours with the permission of Gungywamp property owners” according to a Gungywamp virtual tour website.

Here is what visitors will see at Gungywamp courtesy of Wikipedia:

Gungywamp is an archaeological site in Groton, Connecticut, United States, consisting of artifacts dating from 2000-770 BC, a stone circle, and the remains of both Native American and colonial structures. Among multiple structural remains, of note is a stone chamber featuring an astronomical alignment during the equinoxes. Besides containing beehive chambers and petroglyphs, the Gungywamp site has a double circle of stones near its center, just north of two stone chambers. Two concentric circles of large quarried stones – 21 large slabs laid end to end are at the center of the site.

Source: “Gungywamp” – Wikipedia

GungywampCircle.jpg

By Randal J. (en:User:RJFerret) (Own work (own photo)) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Gungywamp stone circle

Gungywamp stone circle
2003-11-16, uploaded to English Wikipedia on July 25, 2006

 

Puzzling History

Unlike some historical places, America’s Stonehenge and Gungywamp did not remain untouched for thousands of years. Over time, various settlers moved in and out of these areas, and they used and modified these sites to suit their purposes. As a result, both sites contain a mishmash of artifacts and structures from varying time periods. For instance, Wikipedia notes that the charcoal pits of America’s Stonehenge date back to “2000 BC to 173 BC,” but the stones on the site are a lot younger:

Artifacts on the site lead archaeologists to the conclusion that the stones were actually assembled for a variety of reasons by local farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries. For example, a much-discussed ‘sacrificial stone’ which contains grooves that some say channeled blood closely resembles ‘lye-leaching stones’ found on many old farms that were used to extract lye from wood ashes, the first step in the manufacture of soap.”

Source: “America’s Stonehenge” – Wikipedia

Gungywamp also has a jumbled past. Consider the description provided by a travel website called Atlas Obscura:

The site, located in the Connecticut woods less than an hour away from New Haven, consists of multiple stone chambers, rings of stones, piles of rock, Native American artifacts, mysterious etchings, Lithic artifacts, Colonial artifacts, and hundreds or even thousands of years of various settlers adopting and rearranging the site, it is difficult to tell where one historical period ends and another begins.

Source: “Gungywamp” – Atlas Obscura

Origin Myth

painting of a monk by the sea by Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich, Der Mönch am Meer, Le Moine au bord de la mer
oil on canvas painted between 1808 and 1809

One origin myth common to both sites is the tale that they were built by Irish (Culdee) monks who came to America long before Christopher Columbus explored the New World. Based on the various articles I read, the reasons for these Irish monks settling in these areas vary from being shipwrecked to leaving Ireland in order to escape persecution from the Vikings. Brad Olsen even notes the Irish origins of the name Gungywamp: “The word ‘Gungywamp’ was originally thought to be an Indian word, but has another translation in Gaelic meaning ‘Church of the People.’”

To date, archaeologists have not found any physical evidence to support this story. In a Boston University Bridge article by Brian Fitzgerald, CAS Archaeology Professor Curtis Runnels states that “the theory that America’s Stonehenge was built by Celts in ancient times has absolutely no credibility.” His main reason for reaching this conclusion is that “‘no Bronze Age artifacts have been found there.’” He further adds that “‘in fact, no one has found a single artifact of European origin from that period anywhere in the New World.’”

Sources:

“The Mysterious Stone Chambers of New England” by Brad Olsen – Perceptive Travel

“Stonehenge in America? : Archaeology professor debunks claims for ancient rock structures as pseudoscientific fallacy” by Brian Fitzgerald – Boston University Bridge

The Atlas Obscura website notes that this is also the case for Gungywamp:

To add to this the site attracts what might be called archeological conspiracy theories. Among the most popular of these theories (one that crops up at multiple stone sites in the Northeast, see America’s Stonehenge) is that the site is a pre-Colombian settlement build by 6th-century Celtic Christian monks who escaped Ireland to avoid Norse aggression.

 

While it is easy to dismiss this theory, the confirmation of pre-columbian Norse contact in Newfoundland, and the increasing likelihood that Polynesians may have had contact in South America make it increasingly more difficult to dismiss it out of hand. Nonetheless no findings confirming the theory have ever been found by any credible linguists, epigraphers, or archaeologists, making it still a fringe theory at best.

Source: “Gungywamp” – Atlas Obscura

America’s Stonehenge Hoaxes

Two hoaxes have further obscured the origins of America’s Stonehenge. The first hoax involved William Goodwin. He was so convinced of the truth of the story that Irish monks built America’s Stonehenge that he decided to rearrange the stones on the site to prove the validity of the story:

The site’s history is muddled partly because of the activities of William Goodwin, who became convinced that the location was proof that Irishmonks (the Culdees) had lived there long before the time of Christopher Columbus, a concept he sought to publicize. The site has been altered by stone quarrying and by the efforts of Goodwin and others to move the stones to what they considered their original locations, with Goodwin perhaps responsible for much of what can now be seen. Many of the stones have post 1830s drill marks from the quarrying that took place on the site.

Source: “America’s Stonehenge” – Wikipedia

The second hoax involved Barry Fell. According to Wikipedia, the “late Barry Fell, a marine biologist from Harvard University and amateur epigrapher, claimed that inscriptions at the site represented markings in Ogham (an alphabet used to write the Early and Old Irish languages), Phoenician and Iberian scripts, which he also called Iberian-Punic.” Brian Fitzgerald notes that archaeologists questioned the authenticity of these scripts and other findings that Fell outlined in a book called America B.C. :

However, America B.C. was ridiculed by most archaeologists, many of whom noted the similarities between Fell’s so-called “epigraphs” and scrape marks made by plowshares and tree roots.

Other finds highlighted in Fell’s book, such as the Davenport calendar stone (supposedly containing Egyptian hieroglyphics) in Iowa, and the “Iberian” inscription in Grave Creek, W.V., are widely considered among archaeologists to be frauds.

Sources:

“America’s Stonehenge” – Wikipedia

“Stonehenge in America? : Archaeology professor debunks claims for ancient rock structures as pseudoscientific fallacy” by Brian Fitzgerald – Boston University Bridge

Conclusion

Rearranged and reinvented over the years, America’s Stonehenge and Gungywamp remain surrounded by an air of mystery. Can these sites be considered significant archaeological discoveries despite their mixed up history (and the hoaxes in the case of America’s Stonehenge), or are they no better than theme parks with really old rocks?

While the historical significance of America’s Stonehenge and Gungywamp is subject to debate, these sites brought a troubling observation clearly into focus for me. After reflecting upon these sites, I see how easy it is for people to be indifferent to the past. For instance, an article called “Gungywamp, Groton” notes that the colonists used the chambers at Gungywamp as root cellars. This fact seems to indicate that most of the colonists were not really concerned about what the chambers were used for before they arrived there. From their perspective, the chambers were important as places that satisfied an immediate need for food storage.

The historical sites in Part 1 also gave me a similar impression of people being oblivious to the past. After learning that the top of Grave Creek Mound was once home to a dance platform, I am now haunted by an image of local West Virginians of the time literally dancing upon the graves of the ancient people buried in the mound. How many of them actually knew they were doing this?

While I can easily observe this mindset in past generations, I now realize that I am guilty of being oblivious to the past too. What remnants of the past lie beneath my house, the roads I drive on, or the building that I work at? I do not know, and I do not think about them when I am caught up in the everyday cares of my existence. Perhaps it is human nature to be more concerned about the present than the past. If this is the case, then I should not be surprised if more oblivious dancing over graves should occur a hundred or a thousand years from now.

Source: “Gungywamp, Groton” by Ray Bendici – Damned Connecticut

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, culture, history, photography

America’s Ancient Past: Part 1

This week’s post is dedicated to my fellow WordPress blogger Ed Mooney, who has a fantastic photography blog primarily about ruins in Ireland. In an exchange of comments on one of his posts, we ended up talking about ancient finds in the United States. I did not know much about them and became interested in finding out more about them. Thanks for the inspiration, Ed! :)

***

The United States may be only a few hundred years old, but North America has a much longer history. In lands that are now part of the United States, remnants of the Mound Builders’ civilizations continue to fascinate archaeologists and the general public.

The Mound Builders

The Mound Builders consisted of cultures that existed in North America long before Europeans began exploring the continent. According to Wikipedia, these cultures are divided into three categories:

  • Pre-Columbian cultures of the Archaic Period (around 8000 to 2000 BCE)
  • Adena and Hopewell cultures of the Woodland Period (roughly 1000 BCE to 1000 CE)
  • Cultures living in regions of the Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley, and Mississippi River valley and its tributaries during the Mississippian Period (roughly 3400 BCE to the 16th century CE)

As their name implies, the Mound Builders built earthworks, which are earthen mounds used for various purposes. According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, “many served as burial mounds, individual or collective funerary monuments,” while “others were temple mounds, platforms for religious structures.” Wikipedia also notes that these “burial and ceremonial structures were typically flat-topped pyramids or platform mounds, flat-topped or rounded cones, elongated ridges, and sometimes a variety of other forms.” Some Mound Builders also made effigy mounds, which Wikipedia describes as mounds that “were constructed in the shapes or outlines of culturally significant animals.”

Sources:

“Archaic period in North America” – Wikipedia “Mound Builders” – The Columbia Encyclopedia

“Mound Builders” – Wikipedia “Woodland period” – Wikipedia

Several areas where the Mound Builders once lived are now historic sites. This week’s post will feature four of these sites: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Fort Ancient, and the Criel and Grave Creek Mounds in West Virginia.

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is located in Illinois. Here is a brief description of this site by Discover Magazine reporters Karen Wright and Grant Delin:

The 4,000-acre complex preserves the remnants of the largest prehistoric settlement north of Mexico, a walled city that flourished on the floodplain of the Mississippi River 10 centuries ago. . . . A thousand years ago, no one could have missed Cahokia—a complex, sophisticated society with an urban center, satellite villages, and as many as 50,000 people in all. Thatched-roof houses lined the central plazas. Merchants swapped copper, mica, and seashells from as far away as the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of cooking fires burned night and day. And between A.D. 1000 and 1300, Cahokians built more than 120 earthen mounds as landmarks, tombs, and ceremonial platforms.

Source: “Uncovering America’s Pyramid Builders” – Discover Magazine

Cahokia site.jpg

By Varing (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Cahokia site illustration

Cahokia 18 April 2014, 01:46:26

Monks Mound is the largest of the Cahokia mounds that still stands today. According to Wikipedia, it is ”a massive platform mound with four terraces, 10 stories tall, and the largest man-made earthen mound north of Mexico.”

Source: “Cahokia” – Wikipedia

Cahokia Monks Mound.jpg

By (WT-shared) Ethajek at wts wikivoyage (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cahokia Monks Mound

Monk’s Mound in Cahokia
9 January 2010 (original upload date)

 

Monk’s mound panorama.jpg

By TimVickers (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monks Mound Panorama

Monk’s Mound a Pre-Columbian earthwork, located at the Cahokia site near Collinsville, Illinois

Besides mounds, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site has an “American Woodhenge.” It is a timber circle with the “placement of posts [that] marked solstices and equinoxes,” and it was reconstructed using the original post holes found on the site.

Mound 72 Woodhenge diagram HRoe 2013.jpg

Herb Roe [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Cahokia Woodhenge diagram

A diagram of solstice and equinox sunset and sunrise positions at the Mound 72 Woodhenge at the Cahokia Mounds site near Collinsville, Illinois, USA.
28 March 2013

 

Cahokia-net.jpg

Drpaluga at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0, GFDL, GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Reconstructed American Woodhenge at Cahokia

Photo by Nathaniel Paluga of the reconstructed American Woodhenge at en:Cahokia
28 March 2009 (original upload date)

Here are some examples of artifacts found at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site:

Keller figurine.jpg

By TimVickers (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Keller Figurine found at Cahokia Mounds site

Pre-Colombian art, from Cahokia Mounds site

 

(Man smoking from frog pipe) effigy pipe HRoe-2010.jpg

By Heironymous Rowe (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Effigy pipe of male figure crouching and smoking from a frog effigy pipe found at Cahokia

Effigy pipe of male figure crouching and smoking from a frog effigy pipe. Made of red flint clay from Cahokia. The pipe is 20.5 centimeters high and 36.5 centimeters long. Click to enlarge and see back of pipe. It is on display at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma.
5 July 2010

 

Cahokia Birdman tablet HRoe 2012.jpg

Herb Roe [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Cahokia Birdman tablet

An illustration of an avian themed Mississippian culture incised sandstone tablet with an S.E.C.C. “Birdman”. The tablet was found in 1971 during excavations into the east side of Monks Mound at Cahokia. It measures approximately 4 inches (10 cm) in height.
28 April 2012

 

Fort Ancient

Fort Ancient is located in Ohio. In a Free Republic article, Bob Downing describes Fort Ancient as follows:

The site, atop a wooded bluff 235 feet above the Little Miami River in Warren County, was built 2,000 years ago by ancient Indians that archaeologists call Hopewells. The intricate mounds stretch nearly 3 ½ miles and enclose about 100 acres atop a promontory on the east bank of the river in Washington Township. The earthen walls are as high as 23 feet and as wide as 68 feet. The walls are divided by 67 crescent-shaped gateways. There are stone pavements in some places. Some call Fort Ancient Ohio’s Stonehenge, and it is one of Ohio’s top prehistoric sites.

 

Source: “Ohio’s Stonehenge” – Free Republic

SunWatchVillage.jpg

Photo by Andrew Sawyer a.k.a. Asawyer sunwatch.
w:en:Image:SunWatchVillage.jpg by Asawyer sunwatch, 10/12/2006 14:00 (UTC) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SunWatchVillage.jpg

Partially reconstructed Fort Ancient settlement at SunWatch Indian Village SunwAtch Indian Village.

Partially reconstructed Fort Ancient settlement at SunWatch Indian Village.

The most famous mound built by the Fort Ancient people is the Serpent Mound (also called the Great Serpent Mound). The Arc of Appalachia Preserve System describes the Serpent Mound as “the largest surviving example of a prehistoric effigy mound in the world.” According to Wikipedia, “including all three parts, the Serpent Mound extends about 1,370 feet (420 m), and varies in height from less than a foot to more than three feet (30–100 cm).”

Sources:

“What Is Serpent Mound?” – Arc of Appalachia Preserve System

“Serpent Mound” – Wikipedia

Serpent Mound (aerial view).jpg

By Timothy A. Price and Nichole I.; uploaded by the authors. (Part of the archive Image:Serpent Mound.jpg) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Aerial view of the Great Serpent Mound

View of the The Great Serpent Mound, one of the most important prehistoric effigy mounds of Adena Culture, located on the Ohio river, Ohio, USA.
Stump in March of 2002

 

Serpent Mound1 HRoe 2005.jpg

Heironymous Rowe at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0, GFDL, GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Serpent Mound

A photo of Serpent Mound in Peebles Ohio
2005 (14 September 2008 (original upload date))

Here are some examples of artifacts found at Fort Ancient:

Buffalo style mask gorget Ohio HRoe 2010 01.jpg

By Herb Roe, http://www.chromesun.com (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Mississippian Shell gorget from a Fort Ancient site in Ohio

Mississippian Shell gorget from a Fort Ancient site in Ohio, now at the Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center in Portsmouth, Ohio 18 August 2010

 

Ft Ancient Pottery HRoe 2005.jpg

Herb Roe [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

A pot from a Fort Ancient culture site in Ohio

A pot from a Fort Ancient culture site in Ohio.
2008-09-23 (original upload date)
(Original text : 2008)

 

West Virginia Mounds

West Virginia has two noteworthy burial mounds: the Criel Mound and the Grave Creek Mound. Both started out conical in shape, but changes were made to both mounds over time. For instance, the Criel Mound underwent flattening in the 1800s. According to Wikipedia, “residents of the area leveled the top in 1840 to erect a judges’ stand, as they ran horse races around the base of the mound at the time.” The West Virginia Archives & History website notes that “during the last two hundred years” the top of Grave Creek Mound “has been home to a saloon, dance platform, and artillery pieces during the Civil War.”

Despite suffering wear and tear over the years, both mounds remain large structures. Here is some additional information about the dimensions of both mounds from Wikipedia:

The Criel Mound is a Native American burial mound located in South Charleston, West Virginia, USA. The mound was built by the Adena culture, probably around 250-150 BC, and lay equidistant between two “sacred circles”, earthwork enclosures each 556 feet (169 m) in diameter. It was originally 33 feet (10 m) high and 173 feet (53 m) in diameter at the base, making it the second-largest such burial mound in the state of West Virginia.

 

Source: “Criel Mound” – Wikipedia

 

Grave Creek Mound is the largest conical type of any of the mound builder structures. Construction of the mound took place in successive stages from about 250-150 B.C., as indicated by the multiple burials at different levels within the structures. In 1838, road engineers measured its height at 69 feet (21 m) and its base as 295 feet (90 m). Originally a moat of about 40 feet (12 m) in width and five feet in depth, with one causeway across it, encircled the mound.

 

Source: “Grave Creek Mound” – Wikipedia

Since they served as burial mounds, it is no surprise that human remains and some artifacts were found inside of them. According to the West Virginia Archives & History website, two skeletons were initially found in excavations of the Criel Mound by Professor P. W. Norris of the Smithsonian Institute in 1883 and 1884, and further digging revealed “numerous other skeletons . . . , including a burial vault containing the remains of eleven Native Americans thought to have been killed in battle.” The West Virginia Archives & History website adds the grim detail that there “was also evidence that some may have been buried alive.”

Sadly, the Grave Creek Mound was not as carefully excavated as the Criel Mound. The West Virginia Archives & History website describes how “Jesse and Abelard Tomlinson, and Thomas Briggs gutted the mound, destroying much of the archaeological evidence provided by the scientific study of other mounds” in 1838. Inside the mound, the “two men (the website does not specify which two) discovered a burial chamber in the center containing two skeletons and [a] large amount of jewelry and another room with one skeleton and jewelry.” In addition, Wikipedia notes that later archaeological researchers also found “a small sandstone tablet” inside the Grave Creek Mound (the Grave Creek Stone), and the “authenticity of the tablet and the meaning of its inscription is quite controversial.”

Sources:

“Criel Mound” – Wikipedia “Grave Creek Mound” – Wikipedia

“Mounds & Mound Builders” – West Virginia Archives & History

Criel Mound.jpg

By David G. Simpson (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Criel Mound in South Charleston, West Virginia, USA

The Criel Mound in South Charleston, West Virginia, USA.
12 February 2006

 

Grave Creek Mound.jpg

By Tim Kiser (w:User:Malepheasant) (Own work (self-made photograph)) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, West Virginia

Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, West Virginia
20 December 2006

 

Grave Creek Stone and wax cast.jpg

By Smithsonian Institution [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Source: http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/arch/grvcrk.html

Original Grave Creek Stone and cast

The Grave Creek Stone beside a plaster cast of the stone in the Smithsonian Museum of National History’s collection.
16 December 2012, 23:46:08

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, culture, history, photography

Happy Fourth of July

This Friday is the Fourth of July, which is also called Independence Day. The Fourth of July is the day that the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and formally told the world of the Thirteen Colonies’ intent to separate from British rule. You can read more about the history of the Fourth of July on history.com.

I hope you enjoy this selection of America-themed photos that I put together in honor of this special national holiday. Some of these photos were actually taken on a Fourth of July, but some were not.

Fireworks

Fourth of July fireworks behind the Washington Monument, 1986.jpg

By Camera Operator: SSGT. LONO KOLLARS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Washington Monument.

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Washington Monument. Location: WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (DC) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA) Date: 4 July 1986

US Navy 050704-N-3019M-002 Fireworks explode over the guided missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) as part of the 4th of July celebrations at Naval Station Pearl Harbor.jpg

By U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Ryan C. McGinley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fireworks explode over the guided missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) as part of the 4th of July celebrations at Naval Station Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (July 4, 2005) – Fireworks explode over the guided missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) as part of the 4th of July celebrations at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) hosted a block party for Sailors, which included live entertainment, food and games in celebration of America’s 229th birthday. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Ryan C. McGinley (RELEASED)


Red, White, and Blue

Big new FDNY fireboat helps celebrate the 4th of July -a.jpg

By Tom Babich from Fair Lawn, USA (FIREBOAT) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Big new FDNY fireboat helps celebrate the 4th of July

Fireboat
4 July 2013, 20:05

Additional Information: Source: FIREBOAT

US Navy 080604-N-2984R-062 Sailors wave and throw red, white, and blue streamers onto the pier after the announcement that the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) was moored.jpg

By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Ricardo Reyes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sailors wave and throw red, white, and blue streamers onto the pier after the announcement that the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) was moored

Norfolk, Va. (June 4, 2008) Sailors wave and throw red, white, and blue streamers onto the pier after the announcement that the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) was moored. Truman returned to homeport after a scheduled seven-month combat deployment supporting maritime security operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf as well as providing close air support for ground forces serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Ricardo Reyes (Released)

Sailors and Marines display the national ensign. (9218500978).jpg

By Official U.S. Navy Page from United States of America MC3 Chelsea Mandello/U.S. Navy (Sailors and Marines display the national ensign.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sailors and Marines display the national ensign.

RED SEA (June 4, 2013) Sailors and Marines display the national ensign in honor of Independence Day aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Mandello/Released) 130704-N-XZ031-272

Additional Information:

Join the conversation www.navy.mil/viewGallery.asp www.facebook.com/USNavy www.twitter.com/USNavy navylive.dodlive.mil pinterest.com plus.google.com

Source: Sailors and Marines display the national ensign.

Author: Official U.S. Navy Page from United States of America MC3 Chelsea Mandello/U.S. Navy

Patriotic Human Formations

The Work of Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas

In 1918, photographers Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas took these unusual photos of well-known American symbols composed of thousands of soldiers. The Huffington Post notes that these photos were supposed to “get support for the first World War.”

As you can imagine, these photo shoots were no easy task. For instance, the summer heat took its toll during the photo shoot for the “Human Statue of Liberty” picture taken at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. According to The Huffington Post, “The Fort Dodge Messenger reported that a number of men, who were unfortunately dressed in regulation wool uniforms, fainted as the temperature crept toward an unholy 105 degrees.”

The following pictures are not the only human formation photos that Mole and Thomas took during World War I. You can see additional images at “Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas’ WWI Portraits Made From People At Carl Hammer Gallery In Chicago” and at the web site of Chicago’s Carl Hammer Gallery.

Sources:

“Arthur Mole” – Wikipedia

“Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas’ WWI Portraits Made From People At Carl Hammer Gallery In Chicago” – The Huffington Post

MPH 56, Human Statue of Liberty.jpg

By Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas, 915 Medinah Bldg., Chicago, Illinois. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Human Statue of Liberty

This INCREDIBLE picture was taken in 1918. It is 18,000 men preparing for war in a training camp at Camp “Dodge”, in Iowa. EIGHTEEN THOUSAND MEN!!!!!
FACTS: Base to Shoulder: 150 feet Right Arm: 340 feet Widest part of arm holding torch: 12 1/2 feet Right thumb: 35 feet Thickest part of body: 29 feet Left hand length: 30 feet Face: 60 feet Nose: 21 feet Longest spike of head piece: 70 feet Torch and flame combined: 980 feet Number of men in flame of torch: 12,000 Number of men in torch: 2,800 Number of men in right arm: 1,200 Number of men in body, head and balance of figure only: 2,000
Total men: 18,000

Additional Information:

This image and similar photographs by Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas: Arthur S. Mole was a British-born commercial photographer who worked in Zion, Illinois. During and shortly after World War I, Mole traveled with his partner John D. Thomas from one military camp to another, posing thousands of soldiers to form gigantic patriotic symbols that they photographed from above. The formations depicted such images as the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the Marine Corps emblem and a portrait of President Woodrow Wilson. The Wilson portrait, for example, was formed using 21,000 officers and men at Camp Sherman in Ohio and stretched over 700 feet. His “Human Liberty Bell” was composed from over 25,000 soldiers, arranged with Mole’s characteristic attention to detail to even depict the crack in the bell. Mole and Thomas spent a week or more preparing for these immense works, which were taken from a 70 or 80 foot tower with an 11 by 14 inch view camera. When the demand for these photographs dropped in the 1920s, Mole returned to his photography business in Zion.

This picture, as well as additional photographs produced in the same style by Mole & Thomas and other photographers (and featuring the patriotic themes mentioned in the preceding paragraph), can be viewed at the web site of Chicago’s Carl Hammer Gallery.

The Human U.S. Shield.jpg

By Arthur Samuel Mole [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Human U.S. Shield

The Human U.S. Shield, 30.000 Men at Camp Custer, Michigan
1918

Additional Information: Source: http://www.georgeglazer.com/prints/military/molethominv/molethominv.html

Camp Gordon Atlanta GA 1918.jpg

By photographer name illegible (http://fishki.net/comment.php?id=56920) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"The Human American Eagle" formed by 12,500 military officers and men at Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Georgia in 1918, during World War I

“The Human American Eagle” formed by 12,500 military officers and men at Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Georgia in 1918, during World War I
1918 (date in image)

Additional Information:

Editor’s Note: The web site of Chicago’s Carl Hammer Gallery identifies this photo as one taken by Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas.

Source: http://fishki.net/comment.php?id=56920  

8 Comments

Filed under Blogging, culture, photography